Related topics: brain

Correcting an avian aroma error

Evolutionary biologist Danielle Whittaker has a turkey vulture–size bone to pick with John James Audubon, the well-known artist and Audubon Society namesake.

Camouflage or communication: How birds use odor

What senses do birds use? Obviously, they use hearing and sight—after all, they sing and often have colorful plumage. But what about the sense of smell? For a long time, it was thought that olfaction played no role in birds. ...

Humans and other primates have evolved less sensitive noses

Variations in the genes for the newly discovered scent receptors for musk and underarm odor add to a growing body of research suggesting that humans' sense of smell is gradually becoming less sensitive. Sijia Wang of the ...

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Olfaction (also known as olfactics or smell) refers to the sense of smell. This sense is mediated by specialized sensory cells of the nasal cavity of vertebrates, and, by analogy, sensory cells of the antennae of invertebrates. For air-breathing animals, the olfactory system detects volatile or, in the case of the accessory olfactory system, fluid-phase chemicals. For water-dwelling organisms, e.g., fish or crustaceans, the chemicals are present in the surrounding aqueous medium. Olfaction, along with taste, is a form of chemoreception. The chemicals themselves which activate the olfactory system, generally at very low concentrations, are called odors.

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